Though Michelle Duggar of TLC's '19 Kids and Counting' seems to be superwoman with all of her ducks in a row, the transparent TV mom is never shy about revealing her struggles. According to a People report dated Weds. Feb. 26, Mrs. Duggar battled Bulimia as a teenager.
Jim Bob and Michelle's eldest daughters shared their mom's story in their upcoming book 'Growing Up Duggar,' which is due to hit shelves on Tues. March 4. Jessa, Jana, Jill, and Jinger wrote that on the outside "Marie" (name initially changed before revealing true identity), appeared to have everything, but on the inside, she felt sad and empty.
"She began to envy the girl who tried to control her weight through what turned out to be a destructive eating disorder. Not realizing how dangerous it was, Marie thought it might work for her, and soon her obsession to stay thin started controlling her life," the book reads.
Even though Michelle remained active in cheerleading and gymnastics, she struggled to keep off the weight. As so many high school girls do today, she compared her body with her friend's bodies. When she indulged in more sweets or calories than she felt she should, she forced herself to throw up.
"I have been open with my struggles with the kids before," Michelle, 47, who is married to Jim Bob, 48, tells PEOPLE. "We talk about how God has brought us out of different things along life's way. When the girls were writing their book, they brought this up and I thought, if my sharing it is going to help another young lady, then I want to share it."
Michelle says at that low point in her life, she didn't tell any of her friends what she was going through. However, when she began dating Jim Bob at 16, she knew she couldn't keep this from him. Being the supportive man he is, Jim Bob stuck with her, and helped her to overcome the eating disorder that had taken control of her life.
"Every time I was struggling, I would tell him," she says. "It was a hard time for me. But it was at that point in our relationship, it built a solid foundation for us. There are tough things in life you walk through together. I began to tell him, 'I have to have strong accountability for this.' I was set free."
Michelle's first six months of healing were the hardest. She continued to face thoughts and temptations for years to come, but she always called Jim Bob when she felt that way. She thanks God she was set free when she was, because she knows how much damage this disorder could have caused her body had she continued.
Today after giving birth to 19 children, Michelle remains a healthy weight, but she does so the right way. She often looks to Weight Watchers for healthy meal ideas, but she and Jim Bob continue with their methods of accountability.
"That solid accountability with another human being, a deep love and strong focus, was where I found freedom," she says. "I was willing to be accountable before God and man. But the struggle was still there. That accountability was powerful."
As always, Michelle gives all the glory to God and remains thankful for where she is today.
The Duggars' new season on TLC kicks off on April 1 at 9 p.m. Will you be tuning in? Do you plan to purchase 'Growing Up Duggar?'